UN Secretary-General's remarks to pledging conference for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
New York, 25 May 2010
Your Excellency Mr. Chan Tani, Secretary of State of the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Mr. Tony Kranh, Acting Director of Administration of Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Mr. [Knut] Rosandhaug, Coordinator of UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I declare open this Pledging Conference for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
I thank all the participants for their presence here today.
I extend a special welcome to His Excellency Mr. Chan Tani, Secretary of State of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, representing His Excellency Dr Sok An, Minister in Charge of the Office.
As you know, the period of Democratic Kampuchea lasted less than four years, from April 1975 to [January] 1979. Yet during this short period, at least 1.7 million people are believed to have died. Millions more carry the memories of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia were established to bring justice to the people of Cambodia, and to prevent impunity for the most heinous of crimes. They are [a] vital part of efforts to secure Cambodia's long-term well-being, and a crucial element in the world's quest to strengthen international criminal justice.
This pledging conference responds to the difficult financial situation faced by the Extraordinary Chambers.
The Extraordinary Chambers are a Cambodian court, created by a law adopted by the Cambodian National Assembly in July 2001, and signed by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk the following month.
The Chambers operate with assistance from the United Nations, provided under an Agreement with the Royal Government of Cambodia.
Since starting work in January 2006, the Chambers have made impressive progress. Hearings in “case one”, against the Secretary of the notorious S-21 Security Centre, concluded in November 2009. The Trial Chamber is expected to issue a verdict soon. The hearings in this case demonstrated that the Extraordinary Chambers can conduct complex criminal trials to international standards.
Most importantly, they also demonstrated the deep interest of the people of Cambodia in the proceedings. More than 31,000 people visited the Chambers to witness the hearings, most of them Cambodians who journeyed in from Cambodia's provinces. This is a truly astounding figure.
In "case two" the Co-Investigating Judges are expected to issue a closing order later this year with the conclusion of judicial investigations regarding four leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. As in the ongoing trial of Charles Taylor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, one person charged in case two is a former Head of State, showing that no-one is above the law. This is a fundamental principle in the world's fight against impunity, and it is encouraging indeed to see it in action today in Cambodia.
A possible “case three” is now taking shape. This past September, the International Co-Prosecutor forwarded introductory submissions against five individuals to the Co-Investigating Judges, who will decide whether to undertake judicial investigations.
The International Co-Prosecutor has stated that he does not intend to initiate any further cases.
Now that you have a sense of the important work being done by the Extraordinary Chambers, it is time for me to talk about funding. Like all aspects of the Extraordinary Chambers, the budget has international and national components.
For 2010, the international component faces a shortfall of $14.6 million, and the national component a shortfall of at least $6.5 million.
Neither of these figures includes future commitments for staff salaries and entitlements. For 2011, the total budget of $46.8 million is unfunded, except for $1.1 million pledged by the Royal Government of Cambodia to the national component. Thus, both components urgently need further funds.
In a 2003 resolution of the General Assembly, Member States accepted the responsibility of funding the Extraordinary Chambers.
Indeed, the Chambers are entirely dependent on voluntary contributions, the method decided on by Member States in making that commitment.
Without such support, the Chambers cannot function. It is as simple and stark as that.
I am grateful to Member States for their generous contributions to date. I understand that the current economic environment makes it difficult to give more. Still, given the pressing need and the importance of this work, I appeal to you to maintain and increase your support.
I hope that some Member States will make pledges today. I hope others will consider making pledges as soon as possible.
I assure you that all pledges, big or small, will be received with great appreciation by the United Nations. They will also, I'm sure, be greatly welcomed by the Royal Government of Cambodia, and the people of Cambodia who have been waiting for justice for so long.
Thank you very much.